The Mechanic 
2011.02.07 10:51 - Entertainment, Movies
I watched The Mechanic Sunday afternoon. Smarter movie than I'd have guessed (though that's not saying a lot, really). Apparently, it's a remake of a Charles Bronson film from the 1970's.

Two things:
First, it really earns that R rating. The violence I expected, but the sex scenes were a bit of a surprise. Maybe I'm just sheltered, though?

Second, there's a training montage in the first half of the film with some nice slow-motion film of cinder blocks being shot, etc, which includes a really nice clip of a spent case being ejected from a gun and tumbling through the air ... which affords a really excellent view showing the case is from a crimped blank.

All told, I thought it was a good film and would give it about 3.5 out of 5. Not very deep, but what's there seemed (mostly) well done.
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Fans are Mystifying 
2011.01.20 11:32 - Guns, News and Politics
Not that I have any.

I spend too much time (which is to say, any time) watching the Magpul forum at arfcom. I do this because Magpul makes good stuff, and this has, in the past, been a good way to find out what works and doesn't work and how to use some of less conventional bits. The long-suffering people at Magpul even keep an eye on the forum and answer questions, now and then.

Over the last three years, though, their participation has become more narrow and less transparent: less information about stuff under development, more guarded answers, and less direct involvement, generally. They've cited multiple reasons (including problems with industrial espionage, IIRC: stuff that hadn't been officially announced getting knocked off by competing companies), and I don't blame them: if you've been burned, the natural response is to pull your hand out of the fire.

This week, SHOT Show is going on in Las Vegas. SHOT Show is sort of like E3, or CES: it's a big, industry-specific trade show, and is not open to the general public. New media participation has been pretty large the last couple of years, though, and that has made news from the show much more widely disseminated. As a result, I suspect that SHOT is suffering some of the problems that E3 and CES have and/or do: instead of being a big dog-and-pony show from the traditional press, it's starting to become watered down by public marketing.

Last year's launch of the Bushmaster ACR might even be a big contributor to this problem: the news was public almost immediately, and internet-based kvetching started the same day (and you'll find some of it here: I wasn't thrilled, but I also figure I have a readership that can be counted without removing my shoes).

In the past, Magpul has shown off various new and upcoming goodies at SHOT Show: rubberized grips, new handguards, weapon systems, etc. When the new products did not materialize on whatever schedule was mentioned or assumed, the webweenies complained. When the new products didn't cure cancer, the webweenies complained. (If you can't tell, I think the bulk of these complaints are unjustified.)

I guess the complaining was producing more negative PR than showing stuff off was producing positive PR: this year, Magpul's not showing any new stuff at SHOT Show. And, as above, I don't blame them at all.

But, of course, the webweenies are now complaining that there's nothing new to complain about. I guess Magpul can't win on this.

Related (really): I know Apple has its ridiculous fanboys. Do they get similar shenanigans?
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New Pen 
2011.01.12 13:48 - Toys, Pens
I was gifted a Levenger L-Tech at Christmas. (After enough nagging, even I can generate a Christmas list, it turns out.)

As writing instruments go ... it's okay. I've got it filled some WatermanMont Blanc blue-black, which I like as inks go, but I'm not sure it gets along well with this pen.

I like the way the pen looks, which appears to be a mix of matte chrome and polished stainless steel. With Rotring out of the US market, there's not a lot of choices for industrial-ish fountain pens, so I'm glad this is as nice as it is.

It writes well, but is a hard starter. Most of the time, it takes some finagling to get the pen going, which seems to be a function of a nib geometry not agreeing with me and a cap that may not seal as well as it ought. I'm also not sure the nib and feed hold onto enough ink. The nib is not very flexible (normal for a modern pen, really), so the pen "writes like a nail" (to borrow a phrase picked up from the long-passed Rambling Snail forum), but the tip seems smooth and ink flow is consistent.

The section of the pen is knurled in accordance with the look of the pen, and provides a lot of grip. This is a little more aggressive than I'd like, but I've yet written written with it long enough for it to be uncomfortable. It is next to impossible to clean up after filling from a bottle though: once ink gets down into the crevices in the knurling, it's just not all coming out.

The cap screws on over the nib, but posts on the rear by friction. The threads are smooth, but a little more positive engagement would be welcome to keep the pen closed (as when it's in, say, a jacket pocket). The clip is pretty stiff, and difficult to get over thick fabric (like on a knit polo shirt, let's say).

On the whole, I'd give it a B-.

[Updated 2011-05-03: Mont Blanc, not Waterman ink. I don't own any Waterman ink, actually. Also, I've an update after a couple months of using the same pen with Noodler's black.]
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Gun-Related 
2011.01.09 13:42 - Guns, Magpul Masada/Bushmaster ACR
Went out to Knob Creek Range with my sister the Monday between Christmas and New Year's. A little cool, but a pleasant enough afternoon, otherwise: hardly anybody else on the firing line, no wind and no mud or dust to speak of.

Managed to get the Saiga straightened out by swapping the E-Tac Twister Puck and Gunfixer's Gas Plugs for the factory puck and plug. With the factory parts, it seems like it will cycle the rabbit fart Remington bird shot nearly every time. With the aftermarket parts, it just doesn't have enough gas to feed or eject properly. I may try swapping back just the gas plug and see if that can be made to work, as it's much easier to adjust. All that said, I'm moderately certain the problem is at least partly with the ammunition. I picked up a box each of higher-grade, low brass Winchester and Remington shotshells (Winchester AA "Super Sport" #8, 1 , Remington "Premier Nitro") which cycle just fine.

In the meantime, I have a Remington 870 on order. This is primarily because I wanted a shotgun that would eat whatever I fed it: I have a whole bunch of cheap shotgun shells that I'd like to dispose of.

I think I'm likely to purchase an ACR later this year. Bushmaster's 2011 catalog is out, and prices are down a fair bit. With some additional effort, I think I can probably come up with what I wanted for about what I wanted to pay.
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Feeling sort of human, again 
2011.01.09 13:23 - Work-related
As I write this, the other computer is logged into the office, on the likely chance that work will call again, today. Whee.

But, other than that, I'm feeling pretty fair. Two weeks of vacation at the end of the old year will do that for you.
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